Medicare Open Enrollment: Five Things You Need to Do

medicare 50th anniversary Routines help keep us focused, organized, and even healthy. However, if your health routine doesn’t include preparing for Medicare’s Open Enrollment, now’s the time to kick-start a new healthy habit.

If you have a Medicare health or prescription drug plan, you should review and compare coverage options. The Open Enrollment runs through December 7 and is the time you can make changes to your plan. Even if you’re happy with your current coverage, you might find a better fit for your budget or your health needs. If you miss an Open Enrollment deadline, you’ll most likely have to wait a full year before you can change your plan.

Here are five things every Medicare beneficiary can do to get in the Medicare Open Enrollment routine.

  1. Review your plan notice. Be sure to read any notices from your Medicare plan about changes for next year, especially your “Annual Notice of Change” letter. Look at your plan’s information to make sure your drugs are still covered and your doctors are still in network.
  1. Think about what matters most to you. Medicare health and drug plans change each year and so can your health needs. Do you need a new primary care doctor? Does your network include the specialist you want for an upcoming surgery? Does your current plan cover your new medications? Does another plan offer the same value at a lower cost? Take stock of your health status and determine if you need to make a change.
  1. Find out if you qualify for help paying for your Medicare. Learn about programs in your state to help with the costs of Medicare premiums, your Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (medical insurance) deductibles, coinsurance and co-payments, and Medicare prescription drug coverage costs. Visit or make an appointment with a local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) counselor if you need help.
  1. Shop for plans that meet your needs and fit your budget. You can use the Medicare Plan Finder tool to see what other plans are offered in your area. A new plan may:
  • Cost less;
  • Cover your drugs costs; or
  • Let you use the providers you want, like your doctor or pharmacy.

If you find that your current coverage still meets your needs, then you don’t need to make any changes. Remember, during Medicare Open Enrollment, you can decide to stay in Original Medicare or join a Medicare Advantage Plan. If you’re already in a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can switch back to Original Medicare.

  1. Check your plan’s star rating before you enroll. The Medicare Plan Finder includes Star Ratings for the 2016 Medicare health and prescription drug plans. Plans are rated for quality on a one- to five-star scale: one star represents poor performance and five stars represent excellent performance. Be sure to use the ratings to compare the quality of any health and drug plans you are considering.

These are a few easy ways to get a jump-start on your Medicare Open Enrollment. For more information, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and say “Agent.” TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048. Help is available 24 hours a day, including weekends. If you need help in a language other than English or Spanish, let the customer service representative know the language. You can also visit a local SHIP counselor. SHIP counselors provide free, one-on-one, non-biased Medicare assistance. Get free personalized health insurance counseling by calling your SHIP at the number listed on the Medicare contacts page or call 1-800-MEDICARE.



570 thoughts on “Medicare Open Enrollment: Five Things You Need to Do

  1. I have submitted change of address with social security.
    How do i submit change of address for medicare?

  2. Need to apply for Medicare Plan A before my 65 th birthday in September. I called however the line is continuously busy. Also looked on line with no luck.
    I only need Medicare Plan A at this time.
    Need your help please.
    Not sure if I should keep trying on line or perhaps you can help me? Thank you have a bless day.

  3. I am turning 65 in October and I have no idea what I need to chose. Medicare part A & B. I currently have Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas through the Obamacare. I am disabled and was receiving Medicaid until I turned 62 and I was told I could no longer receive it. Will I be able to receive Medicaid after I turn 65? I was told to contact Social Security 3 months prior to my 65th birthday. I need help with these questions.

  4. I am 65, covered under my husbands health insurance and want to wait until 70 to collect benefits. Do I have to do anything right now or can I just wait untilI’m70?
    Thank you for your help.

    • Thanks for your question, Kathleen. If you are covered under a group health plan based on your husband’s current employment, you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) that will let you sign up for Medicare Part B after age 65. You have an 8-month SEP to sign up for Part A and/or Part B that starts at one of these times (whichever happens first):
      • The month after his employment ends
      • The month after group health plan insurance based on his current employment ends.

      Usually, you don’t pay a late enrollment penalty if you sign up during a SEP.

      You should always check with your husband’s health benefits advisor, or health plan representative to see what’s best for you. To learn more about the Medicare enrollment periods visit Please call our toll-free number at 1-800-772-1213 if you need further assistance or you can contact your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

  5. Can you enroll in Medicare D, (not an advantage plan) during open enrollment. We are very happy with our ARRP supplement plan but would like to check on enrolling in the part D. We already have Medicare A and B.

  6. I was receiving Medicare but I disenrolled since I live abroad. I will return back to the states and want to reenrollled.

  7. I will turn 65 on September 9, 2020. I do not wish to enroll in Medicare coverage at this time. I am still working full-time. I wish to opt out of coverage and continue with my health insurance coverage through my employer. I don’t want to be penalized when I enroll later. Please email me.

    • Hi James, thanks for using our blog. If you’re 65 or over and covered under a Group health plan based on current employment, you may be eligible to sign up for Medicare (Part A & B) during a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). We always suggest that individuals speak to their personnel office, health benefits advisor, or health plan representative to see what’s best for them, and to prevent any penalties or delayed enrollment in the future.

      For specific questions about your case, call 1-800-772-1213 and ask a representative to assist you or you can contact your local office directly. Thanks!

  8. My wife and I have Medicare part A and Part B. We are paying the premium for medicare part B. I am seeing the ad on TV stating that our premium for medicare part b will be zero if we are living in certain zip code. Is this true? We live in zip code 91325.

    I am 74 years old person. My wife is 67. Ours is the family of 2 person. Do we qualify for any help in paying medicare part B premium?

    Please advise us asap for above matters. Thank you.


    Kirit Gandhi
    PH (310) 663-9751 cell
    PH (818) 349-5254 land line

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